Palm Springs Pacer by Leah Giberson
8"x8" ($24) | 11"x11" ($60) | 16"x16" ($240) | 24"x24" ($1200) | 30"x30" ($2400)
Wishful thinking is the theme this week, so we’re transporting ourselves straight to summer road trip glory with a little imagination and a lot of Leah Giberson. Every one of our Giberson editions is a mini-vacation in museum-quality print form, but this new piece — Palm Springs Pacer — plays on the artist’s Airstream motif and we’re here for it, because who doesn’t love the look of a shiny, retro Airstream? Giberson seamlessly combines her photorealistic painting skills with a flair for fantasy, and in response, be warned that you’ll want to drive off into the sunset with this trailer.
If you’ve been tracking Giberson’s 20x200 editions, then you know she’s got a soft spot for the side dishes of suburbia. Travel trailers in particular are prime fodder for this painter. She's totally fascinated by what they represent as ironic emblems of the American Dream, as tokens of technological advancement, as symbols of freedom and adventure that not infrequently end up immobile or ignored — and after getting up close and personal with her work, so are we. But beyond that, Giberson’s Palm Springs Pacer is also a lesson in looking closer.
Peep the crowd reflected in the panels, and take a moment to appreciate how insanely accurately Giberson paints reflections while you’re at it. See some vintage cars, the makings of a sunny summer outing, and what looks like a family. (Fun fact: three of the figures reflected are actually Giberson's mother, daughter, and herself, so this is a self-portrait of sorts!). The open door and hovering stairs of the trailer beckon you to set foot inside. It’s impossible not to hatch a story to match the scene or picture the contents of that silver home on wheels. You’ll find yourself mining the image for clues.
There’s something about this piece that feels instantly nostalgic, and perhaps that’s because the whole thing is a meta-meditation on memory itself. Working from a photograph, Giberson prints, cuts and reassembles the original image, then paints over it entirely. While doing so, she erases the details that don’t call out to her, accentuating and articulating those that do. (Peek at Palm Springs Pacer in its early stages in our In The Studio interview with the artist.) This is a deeply personal process of selection that pushes her work somewhere between stunningly lifelike reconstruction and creative invention.
The cloudless blue sky meeting astro-turf-green grass meeting cement in an ambiguous shade of beige: this is painted with a peculiar flatness that feels more like the backdrop on a stage than any scene in real life. Consider those almost cartoonishly cliché colors and crisp straight lines in comparison to the hyper-realistic curves and detailed reflections on the trailer at center. Even the spectacularly realistic reflections are inherently distorted themselves. This halfway point between fact and fiction is precisely what Giberson is going for.
Giberson’s process of omitting, altering and recreating — and the work that results from it — recalls the ways in which memories are molded. Palm Springs Pacer and her other pieces in this body of work are a nod to another kind of truth that hangs out in that liminal zone between palpability, perception and the personal. They’re also radiant reminders that seeing is imperfect and ever-changing. As if you needed a reason to look at her art again.
With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200